Saturday, October 13, 2007

Visiting The Flight School

I decided to head to Brandywine airport today in order to catch up with my PPL Certified Flight Instructor (CFI). I also figured I would catch the helicopter airshow since there was a TFR in place, that's how I found out about the show. Bill was flying with a student so I parked it in an office chair and soaked up all the good vibes from the new students.

Bill walked in after just a brief wait and we shook hands. It's always great to see him, and I couldn't wait to update him on my flying. First words out after hello, was how professional I sounded on the radio while he had been to Wilmington during lessons. Man, that was really nice, it made my day. I in turn responded instantly with; well, I had a very good teacher, which I truly did.

Bill finished up with his potential 'new' student who was taking a discovery flight. The man mentioned that his wife gave him a gift certificate, of course I jumped in with what a good Bride she is. From the sounds of it the discovery flight gentleman was hooked, he vowed to be back again soon and inquired how he should schedule a next lesson. Like I said, soaking up the good vibes.

Bill and I discussed a few things that I wanted to get his opinion on concerning my flight to Myrtle Beach. Two topics, the first was my handling of lost comm's with Norfolk approach just outside of the Newport News Class Delta and the second was my fuel plan.

A quick review of the lost comm question had me just outside the Delta airspace at 3000' with a 1700' cloud layer between me and KPHF. I was about to request lower altitude when a stuck mic and the PHF ATIS bleeding through had approach all screwed up. I slowed and then immediately contacted Newport News tower to advise of my altitude and position along with my lost comm problem. I was given a new approach frequency and off I went. Norfolk approach granted the descend at my discretion which I did by holding over the Bay to get below the layer. Once at 1500' approach turned me over to the tower and I was to report a midfield left downwind for runway 7. I reported followed with a cleared to land. He seemed ok with this and reaffirmed, always fly the airplane first.

The second question was my fuel planning. The flight to Newport news is 1 hour and 37 minutes with a fuel burn of 15 gallons. I hit my first check point SBY on time 47 minutes. With a change in course came even a better tail wind and I was headed to checkpoint two (CCV) with a faster ground speed. So my fuel plan is good, I left with the tanks filled to the tabs, 34 gallons, and flight plan for 10gal/hr. After I landed and had the time to now replay the flight over in my mind, I gave even more thought to the "what ifs". I kept asking myself what if PHF conditions would have changed to IFR conditions and there was no way of getting into the area. I would have made the 180 and get back over the peninsula and look to land at Accomack County Airport (MFV), and IF that was now IFR? Back to Salisbury, SBY.

Bill said it very plain and very matter of fact. Why did I leave with fuel to the tabs? I responded because at the time I legally had plenty of reserve fuel and thought I would top off at PHF. He played out this scenario, Hmmmm....fuel is how much at ILG? and you may have saved .60 cents a gallon on maybe 10 gallons, so, your life is worth $6.00? When W&B allows for full fuel load and conditions warrant such, fill those tanks.

[sigh], I'll take some consolation in knowing I felt the same way after playing it out in my mind once secure at Rick Aviation and heading to our hotel. It's a license to learn and I added to my experience and decision making process. I mentioned to Bill I am ready to get started on my IR and that I have been working on the ground portion, he was excited and said it was a very good decision and it will make me a better pilot.

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